Objects in (the) Mirror

Reading time: 7 minutes.

Decades are short

A decade ago I graduated from my medical college, but then decided to try my luck in tech. Not bio-medical engineering or other overlapping fields, I wanted to build software full-time. I had an itch that I couldn’t avoid anymore.

Problem was, I only knew how to build native desktop applications back then. Although that skill was amazing to build side-projects, there were no jobs for that in the market. All I wanted was an open door. I joined a company anyway where an opportunity came to build Android applications. I became an Android application developer on the job. Besides, started learning JavaScript too, the language everyone loves to hate. After a few years of creating Android apps for a few companies, the web started to seem more and more interesting. I changed my job again to became a frontend dev with the JavaScript experience I had. Crazy times, meanwhile Node.js started to get a lot of momentum, and found I like backend development more than anything else. I stayed on that track ever since.

The itch I had, lead me to work at startups funded by Y-Combinator, Sequoia Capital. It opened the door for me to be tech-lead, and architect. It gave me the opportunity to meet some extra-ordinary people in my journey. I failed a few times too. I tried freelancing once, but it was not worth it. Tried to create my startup and found I’m not ready for it yet. I got married, we have had a kid, and amazing nine years went by at light-speed 🚀.

2020, oh my!

I took another major decision at the end of 2019. I finally decided to take another leap of faith and relocate to Europe.

In all these years, I prioritized growth above anything else. But what do you do when your world is not getting bigger anymore? The tech community and landscape were tiny in my country, and I have been working there for almost a decade. It seemed I had seen all that my place had to offer. I had a good run, for sure, but it was time to move on.

I started interviewing in November 2019 for backend engineering positions in Berlin. November to January is not a good time for job hunting in this region, people are mostly on vacations, but I didn’t know that at the time. I got lucky though, I managed to get an offer at a startup within two weeks, accepted it, informed the other companies I was interviewing with that I’ll not be continuing the interviews. I gave notice to my employer. And started to prepare for applying for the visa. Everything happened so fast.

The visa process is full of race conditions and catch-22 situations. My job contract expired while I was waiting for months for an appointment at the embassy. After a lengthy period of waiting, paperwork, waiting, and mostly waiting, I got it finally.

Meanwhile, Covid-19 spread beyond Wuhan. People around me were oblivious about it, but I remember I was frantically refreshing Reddit to know the update on an upcoming pandemic. I knew this was the worst time to relocate. But I didn’t know what else to do. I quit my job, sold the car and most other possessions. I had just one option, to move forward.

The startup in Berlin that hired me provided relocation support. They sent the plane ticket, arranged and paid for a studio apartment for me. On 14 February 2020, I finally got on a plane and came to Berlin.

Few months went by. Eventually the Covid-19 managed to hit the startup I was working for. There were some downsizing. I was doing great though. My manager, the CTO of the startup told me I went beyond his expectations and he couldn’t possibly ask for more. But Covid-19 kept hitting. No matter how much I liked working there, I started to feel uncomfortable about the business situation. Working at startups is fun, but it’s time to explore more financially stable options now, I thought.

Covid-19 massacred the job market in Berlin like everywhere else. Lots of people lost their jobs (I know a few of them, too). A seller’s market suddenly flipped to be a buyer’s market; fewer jobs, unprecedented amount of candidates looking for options. I started to drop my CV again.

On top of the market condition, job hunting was painful because I was interviewing and working at the same time, in the same time-zone. I was not ready for that amount of juggling it needed. The anxiety from knowing how people around you are losing their jobs and the stress of job hunting wasn’t something I experienced ever. I’m still recovering from that stress.

I must say I got lucky again. I got multiple offers at the same time that gave me a good negotiating position in a situation where a lot of people will be a happy to get an offer, any offer. I requested for early release with my employer (the typical notice period is 3 months), got that. The founders, my PM, and colleagues, are all awesome peeps. We had a pizza party at the office and another team-event where we went to eat out before I left.

I joined my new team in November 2020 at OLX Group. It’s been two months; so far, so good!

Here’s to the next one 🍸

I don’t know what’s going to happen in 2021. If it’ll feel like we finally woke up after a nightmare, or it’s just 2020_v2.

If this decade taught me anything, it’s that you can never be prepared enough, so I’m not trying that. It taught me about preferred indifference. Wanting something, working hard for it, but also knowing how to be stoic if things turn out differently. I guess that mindset is going to guide me through the next one, too.